African Export Import Bank (AFREXIM), has concluded plans with the Nigerian Government to develop two industrial parks in the country in 2018, for the processing commodities for export in line with government’s economic diversification and job creation efforts.
When completed, the parks will not only boost government’s foreign exchange earnings, through the standardisation of export commodities, but also stem the rejection of Nigerian commodities at international destination markets.
Already, discussions between the Bank and the Nigerian authorities have been sealed, and a feasibility study on the intervention concluded, according to the President, AFREXIM Bank, Dr. Benedict Oramah, at a media conference in Abuja yesterday.
Oramah, who spoke generally on the Bank’s intervention activities since it began operations in 1994, also disclosed that its portfolio in Nigeria is currently worth $16 billion out of which only about $3 billion in outstanding.
He listed some of the investment platforms to include the public and private sectors, covering power sector reform Programme, local content policy, investments in oil assets, banks recapitalisation project, Dangote Manufacturing Group, airlines, hotels and á host of others.
Offering more insight into the development of the Parks, he revealed that the project was being supported by the Chinese Government with the sum of $1 billion through the China EXIM Bank, as part of a $60 billion aid promised by the Chinese President Xi Jinping, to help African nations industrialise and elevate their economies.
President Muhammadu Buhari while presenting the 2018 Appropriation Bill on Tuesday, told Nigerians that his administration planned to develop six industrial parks in during the year, it is uncertain if these two are among them.
Although the location of the two industrial parks would be determined by the Federal Government, but Oramah disclosed that the Bank had already a five-hectare land in Ogun State for the for the establishment of a testing and certification centre for ensuring that processed commodities for export meet international specification.
All these interventions, the AFREXIM President said are a part of the Bank’s intra-Africa trade for which a budget of $25 billion had been approved for the continent to promote intra trade among its nations.
African countries are expected to tap the estimated $40billion market size, which at the moment is being conducted informally under very difficult and risky conditions.
Oramah said: “In our new strategic plan, we are to disburse about $25 billion in intra Africa trade. We are making big investment to promote and formalise intra-Africa trade now worth over $40 billion. We are now about to develop inter-Africa trade platform to serve as a settlement platform. The software is being developed; it will allow countries to pay with their own currencies. It’s going to be launched before the end of this year.
“We are also promoting the emergence of Export Trade Companies, and also making arrangements for their financing to fast track Intra Africa trade because it has been proven that Continents that trade among themselves grow faster than those that don’t.”
Meanwhile, the AFREXIM boss further revealed that the Bank has equally concluded arrangements for the building of a world class health centre for the cure of cancer, and other deadly diseases to provide an alternative to Africans seeking medical tourism to other continents.
The project too is to be undertaken next year once the Federal Ministry of Health decides on the location.
Nigeria is a major shareholder in the AFREXIM Bank, second to to Egypt, where it has its Headquarters.